I tried to calm myself down, but when you are standing in front of two hundred friends, family members, and complete strangers pretending not to know that she won’t be walking down the aisle anytime soon, there is no way that you can relax. Every second that pulsated on made me long for the days when I was at home with Ethan. He was my lover for seven years before I was forced to choose between coming out or marrying Claire.
I suppose I should explain what happened about a year ago that made it necessary for me to choose between Ethan and Claire. Well, it was one of the worst times in my life, and I only now realize that I made the wrong decision. It’s been about six months since I was standing at that altar, but the ramifications are still affecting me. I guess I’ll start from the beginning.
I have known ever since I was fifteen that I was not, and never would be, interested in girls. I loved to smell their hair, choose their clothes and have a great brunch, but when it came to physical attraction, I needed to feel a man’s arms wrapped around me. There was something about the scent of a man that drew me into lust. I never permitted myself to explore this side though, nor had I ever dated women. All throughout the rest of high school and even then into college, I threw myself into studies, sports, and style. I never kissed anyone, went to a dance, dated anyone – nothing. Those things were somehow not easy for me to do. I wanted to, but I couldn’t because of the people that I was attracted to.
Shortly after finishing law school, I moved into a city apartment where it would be easy to find a job. It was there that I met Ethan. I can remember it more clearly than I can remember the image I see of myself when I look in a mirror.
I had an interview at a law firm that was pretty well known for hiring people straight out of law school. When I stepped into the central office, I was overcome with a sense of welcoming. The double doors that I opened in order to get in contained huge panes of stained glass almost like the ones that you would see in St. Pat’s. As I walked through the entranceway, I saw my future office. There must have been about twenty of these offices lined straight across the back row with each holding a name on the upper portion, slightly to the left of the room number. I stood there for a few seconds just admiring the golden doorknobs, the chandeliers and the flower gardens. I smelled the gardenias and the roses, not to mention the elegant lilies that poured out from the basin of a golden fountain.
Suddenly, my attention was diverted to the far right balcony where my future Adonis stood. That was Ethan. He was a junior partner in the firm, only 27, and to my advantage, the man whom my interview was with. He seemed to be looking back at me through the interior glass wall. Gently resting up against the edge of the balcony, he was chatting on a cell-phone. After about a thirty-second trance that we were both trapped in, I noticed that he was shutting the cell-phone off, and walking in my direction.
“Hello. You must be Brody. I’m Ethan Cory. I will be interviewing you. I have the rest of the afternoon free. Would you like to go have lunch and get to know each other? I’ve never been one for formal interviews. The D’Orazio is just around the corner.”
I longed to escape with him into some mysterious surroundings. Maybe the D’Orazio would be the place. The office interview didn’t last too long. He said that he had looked over my resume, and was planning on hiring me with or without an interview. His apartment was, coincidentally, across the street from The D’Orazio, and he had to stop home to pick up a file. I jumped at the chance to see where he lived. Maybe I would gain some insight into his taste in… lovers.
Ethan was my first, and I would love to say my only, but I can’t. I would be lying. After we walked to the restaurant, we ordered right away being that it was so late in the afternoon. I had forgotten that I had just eaten lunch forty minutes before I arrived. Ethan does that to you though. He has an aura about him that reaches out with its powerful grip, and slowly but methodically draws you in to his scent, his touch, his lips — his entire body.
I first noticed his eyes. They were such a beautiful hazel color. They had specks of green, and blue, with brown undertones all about them. They were also shaped in a most luscious way. The outer edges had curled upward giving them their exotic look. His lashes were long and thin, which only served to tantalize me even more. And his hair. He had the most gorgeous dirty blonde hair that was parted every so slightly on the left side of his head. It curled at the very edges giving his face an angelic shape. He had the perfect model looks from his baby face to his magnificent body. It was chiseled, toned, tanned, and hard.
And I knew all this just by looking at him. Ethan had adorned his body in a pair of charcoal gray dress pants and shoes to match. Fastened tightly to his muscular chest was a black tee shirt. He completed his masterpiece with a heather gray button-down shirt that was left open, making a statement to all that were in his view. Everyone knew he was nearly flawless. His style unarguably exquisite, his manner impeccable. I’ve never met a man more divine that Ethan Cory.
Ethan and I sat at the table in the restaurant enjoying mouthwatering lobster and fresh asparagus. I hadn’t eaten that well in quite a few months. That afternoon was one of the most memorable ones that I had ever had up until that point, and I had only been there for nearly an hour. After leaving, we headed to his apartment to pick up that pesky file.
We walked into his suite on the seventeenth floor, and it had such a breathtaking view. I stood looking out at the crystal clear sky, and the many lights that started to shine across the city since darkness had approached. It was absolutely beautiful.
We talked for hours about growing up, yet never once broached the subject of great loves and sexual conquests. I had the impression that he was irresistible not only to me, but also to many others. I knew that they had all fawned over him too. I didn’t want to bring the subject up, although it did seem like we were friends rather than employer and employee.
Ethan must have read my mind though. He started probing a little bit further into what brought me into town, since I told him I had only recently moved to the city after finishing law school. He asked if I was dating anyone. I told him absolutely not.
“No, I’m here to find work. And I would never let my personal life interfere with my work environment. I am too excited about getting some important cases, and I wouldn’t have time for a personal life – maybe not even friends, unfortunately.” Little did I realize how quickly that statement would fly out the window.
I wanted to spend time with him though, and become friends, become lovers. He hadn’t given me a sign though. Was he attracted to me? Did he feel any connections? I know I did. I couldn’t control the way that I was feeling. I couldn’t sit still. I tried not to stare, in that way we all do when we think someone is unbelievably hot, but we don’t want him or her to know because then they will know we like them. It is such a difficult task. But getting to know Ethan wasn’t. Ethan was confidant with who he was. I have never seen someone more sure of himself than Ethan was.
Ethan was sitting only a few feet from me on a black leather sofa. He removed the heather gray button down, and untucked his black tee shirt. I thought it was a sign of his interest, but then again, maybe he was only getting comfortable.
“Brody, you look way to uncomfortable in that shirt and tie. Why don’t you take them off? In fact, why don’t you take everything off? I was thinking of relaxing in the hot tub. You should join me.”
My first thought was “Oh my God! What if he senses I am attracted to him, and he isn’t to me?” I hadn’t learned whether or not he was into guys yet – I mean a majority of men aren’t, let’s face it. It didn’t matter that I had already thought of more than ten ways to arouse him just beginning with getting in the hot tub. He could be as straight as a ruler is for all I knew.
“Well, Ethan, I don’t want to take up too much of your time. I’m sure you want to relax after a long day without someone to bother you.”
“Trust me, you wouldn’t be bothering me. In fact, I can barely contain myself. You have thirty seconds to let me take everything off of you. I am not asking you to join me in the hot tub. I am telling you to. I can assure you that you will have a good time.”
If that wasn’t a clue, I didn’t know what was. Well, I don’t need to finish off what happened that evening, and later in the night, and again the following morning before my first day of work (yes, he apparently needed me to start right away). I am quite sure you can figure it out on your own. Well, besides getting the job, I also got Ethan.
I got to know Ethan pretty well during our time together. I could tell when he was stressed, and when he needed me to leave him alone. I could tell when he wanted to make love without even telling me. Most of all though, I could tell how much he loved me. I knew that I wanted to be with him forever, but I also knew that I would have to accept a few things. I couldn’t keep living this lie in my family’s eyes. I wanted to tell them that I was gay, but I couldn’t bring such a huge disappointment to them. My mother wouldn’t believe me anyway. She has too many hopes for me. She wants me to become a big lawyer and fight for the underdog. I want that too, but I suppose it’s only because she’s the one who told me to be a lawyer ever since I was five. The one sore spot between Ethan and I was that I hadn’t come out of the closet. Everyone at work knew that he was gay, but they didn’t know I was, nor that he and I were involved. We often fought about it. The subject hadn’t come up all too often, but when it did, it was always hard to get through.
After seven years of being with Ethan, I couldn’t imagine thinking of anyone else. But as I mentioned earlier, there was a woman in my life too – Claire Williams. Claire was my mother’s best friend. She was the reason that I was forced into making such a horrible decision – coming out or marrying Claire.
As I said, no one ever knew that I was gay. I had managed to hide it for the longest time. Whenever someone asked me about having “a special someone,” I always told them that I didn’t have the time, or I was busy working at the firm and had to travel a lot. I made up stories about getting laid by someone really hot. I just accidentally left out that his name was Ethan. I did sleep with many Saras, Traceys and Nicoles though! At least that’s what I told everyone. I learned to lie very well.
I wasn’t ashamed of being gay, but my family had an image to keep up. My parents were staunch Catholics – off the boat from Italy. Talk about a hard life. I had to be a good little Catholic boy when all I wanted was to sleep with more than half the boys in my religion classes. If my parents knew, they would be horrified. They own this huge company back home, and they are one of the most elite families in the state. Claire knew this, and she made sure that I never forgot it.
Claire is a very beautiful woman with piercing blue eyes. Many men chased after her before she got engaged. When I was younger, she used to tease me by telling me that I was going to marry her when I grew up.
One day when I was around 16, I had just come back from the gym, and Claire was in our living room. She was about fifteen years older than I was, but she still looked as though she was 20. I came through the glass doors right into the living room not realizing that anyone was in there. I had already taken my shirt off, and was patting myself dry when she made her presence known.
“Hey stud,” she said in a seductive voice, “You are looking very hot. Going to the gym, huh? I always loved a man who knew how to take care of his body.”
“Thanks. I like going to the gym. It makes me feel good about myself. Where’s my mother anyway?”
“She’s in the kitchen starting supper. Brody, you get more handsome every time I see you. I can’t wait to have a son just like you. Come over here and give me a kiss.”
And I did. I went for her cheek, but she forced her mouth on mine. It wasn’t very good either. I mean, she only meant to kiss me hello, but somehow, I wasn’t sure anymore what her intentions were. She told me that someday, she would know the real thing. I laughed every time she said that. If only my mother knew.
One day, about a year ago, Claire suddenly arrived on my doorstep in the city. I hadn’t spoken to her in almost two months. Anyway, I had just come out of the shower, and had a towel wrapped around necessary areas. Ethan was in bed waiting for me to join him again.
I assumed it was just a neighbor stopping by to tell me a quirky story or ask me to pick something up for them at work. Last time, the girl who lived next door to me came over to tell me that she thought someone had been staying over my place lately. She said that he was really good-looking. “Is it one of your brothers?” she asked, “I’d love to meet him.”
Yeah, right I thought. Why don’t you come over and join us. If two is this good, I wonder what three will be like. Neighbors… Sometimes, I wonder about them. Well, I had cracked the door just a little to peer out this time. It wasn’t a neighbor. It was Claire.
She told me that she was so glad I was home. She needed to talk to me about something. She pushed her way into the apartment, not bothering to ask if I was alone or not. She had a fur coat on – it was in the middle of the winter after all. I soon found out that she barely had anything on underneath it either.
Slipping off her fur coat, revealing a shimmering black camisole, Claire approached me. “Brody, how are you? You look absolutely delicious in that towel.” With that, she reached for the towel, and threw it across the room.
All right, I thought. She is seeing me naked. That’s okay. I can handle this. I have nothing to be ashamed of. I have a pretty damn good body, but she was fifteen years older than I was, and my mother’s best friend. With that, she told me that I was going to make love to her for the entire afternoon — until I got her pregnant.
“What?” I cracked. I thought I misheard her.
“I said, you are going to carry me into your bedroom, and make love to me for hours. I want to make a baby with you Brody.”
“Claire, you are funny. Really, you are.” With that, I went to grab my towel, but she was faster than I was. She grabbed my towel, whispered “you won’t be needing this”, and headed for the bedroom.
Shit, I thought. Ethan’s in there. She can’t find him. She’ll figure everything out. I ran after her, leaping over the couch, and at the same time praying I wouldn’t smack into anything. Trust me, it hurts more than you would believe.
I was too late. I walked in, and saw four eyes staring at me is utter disbelief. They seemed to look from me to the other, and then back to me.
“Um’, I,” I mumbled trying to get the words to come out right.
“You’re a fucking homosexual? No wonder I’ve never seen you dating anyone. To think I wanted to do it with you like animals when you were younger. You probably don’t even know what to do with a woman.”
My entire life was about to crumble, and all I could think of was that I could do things to her that she had never thought of. Ethan was definitely a good teacher. Then I realized that Claire could go back home and tell my parents and the rest of my family. The whole town would find out. I wouldn’t ever be able to go home again.
Ethan got up and walked into the bathroom. Even though my life was falling apart, I couldn’t help but notice how sexy he looked in his boxer briefs. This was supposed to be our last night together before he left for a trial in Atlanta for the week. Now it was ruined because Claire had an urge to have sex with me. Why was she coming to me now?
Claire looked at me and smiled. “At least you have good taste in men!”
“You’re not funny Claire. What the hell did you have to do that for? I was happy. No one knew about Ethan. I had a perfect life. You are such a bitch.”
“Listen, Brody. I have more things to worry about than you sleeping with some guy. I always thought you seemed a little bit off – never dating anyone. Why did I have to do that? I told you, I wanted you to make love to me. Can you do that though? I wonder…”
“Go to hell Claire. It’s none of your business what I can or can’t do. Why don’t you just run home and tell everyone right now? I know you are going to.”
“Nah. I have a better idea. If you make love to me, and get me pregnant, I won’t tell a soul what I just saw. But, if you don’t, I will make it my goal to ruin your life.”
“What the hell is wrong with you Claire? You can’t just barge in here demanding that I give it to you so you can walk out of here with my child growing inside of you. I have morals. Why do you need to get pregnant? You have a fiancé. You have a sex life. You’re happy.”
It turned out that Claire’s life wasn’t as happy as I thought it was. Claire told me that her fiancé was sterile. He couldn’t father any children. He didn’t know this piece of information. Claire had found out from the doctor first, and decided to keep it from her fiancé. She begged the doctor not to tell her fiancé, and he agreed. When I asked her why he agreed to keep quiet, Claire told me not to worry about that. “It only took an hour to convince him. I’m good at that,” were her words to me.
I guess Claire figured that she would find someone else to get her pregnant, and not tell her fiancé what she had done. Then, he would think it was his baby. He had no reason not to think it was after all.
I was beginning to understand why she had come to me now. And I had a shadow of sympathy for her as well. All her life, she had always talked about having children, and having a son just like me. Never did either of us think that she would be asking me to be the one to give it to her. But she was. And now I had to figure out what to do. She had given me an ultimatum. What was I supposed to do? Ruin my life by letting her tell everyone that I was gay. She would have done it too. She could be a bitch like that.
Ethan came out of the bathroom, and then he left. He figured that I had some things to deal with. He didn’t even know what was going on either. He kissed me first; he didn’t care what Claire thought.
I told Claire that she needed to leave. I wasn’t going to do it. I loved Ethan. And I didn’t want to jeopardize our relationship. Claire wouldn’t take no for an answer. She told me that this would be all she would ask from me ever again. What’s a guy to do?
Sometimes I think I am too kind. When someone needs help, I always try to be there for him or her. Then I thought about my life. I had been living a lie. I wanted to come out of the closet, so to speak, but I wasn’t strong enough to do it. If I gave Claire her baby, then I could buy myself some time. After discussing it with Claire for over an hour, I finally succumbed to her blackmail. I had no choice, and she knew it.
I won’t even discuss how much of a disaster that night was. She was there for over three hours, and I ended up sleeping on the couch. It took me forever to fall asleep. I am not even sure that I did. All I know is that I woke up the next morning with a message on the answering machine. It was from Ethan.
He told me that he was leaving for Atlanta, and he didn’t know what hotel he was staying at yet; he would call me when he knew. Ethan also told me that he wasn’t sure what was going on with Claire, but he loved me and couldn’t wait to finish that night together.
I decided to take my vacation that week. Ethan was gone, so I could go home and spend the obligatory week with my parents. My mother always gave me grief if I didn’t go home at least once a month. And I felt so guilty about the night with Claire that I needed to go home and get some religious influence from my mother. That was a first.
Besides, my mother had been on my back about getting married. I needed to divert her attention by spending a lot of time with her and letting her know how busy I was at work. My mother had this power over all of her children. She had shipped my sister Alicia off to the convent when she learned that Alicia had been having sex with her boyfriend. And Alicia was twenty-two. We were raised to do whatever our parents told us to do. They wanted me to be a lawyer, so I became a lawyer. I can’t explain why we did what they told us to, but I guess it is because we all loved them so much, and were grateful for everything that we received.
We also wanted the huge inheritance that they were going to leave us when they passed away, despite having to keep up some type of saint-like image.
The week went by fairly well, except for the fact that I didn’t get to talk to Ethan. My answering machine wasn’t working too well. On the Sunday before I had to go back, I had a big lunch with the whole family, including Claire. She told me that she took the pregnancy test. She was 99 % sure that she was pregnant. I didn’t know whether to be relieved or angry. I was glad that I didn’t have to do it with her again. I know she would have made me if she weren’t pregnant. However, I had given something of mine to her to create a baby that I would never be able to acknowledge as my own. And I didn’t even know if I wanted kids yet.
She took me out onto the porch to finish the conversation.
“Listen, Claire. I did what you wanted. I gave you the baby that you asked for. You aren’t going to say anything to anyone. Are you?”
“No, Brody, you can trust me. I won’t tell anyone that you are sleeping with a man, who I might add is entirely too gorgeous for one human being. The good ones are always taken or are gay. That’s usually the case. So, what do we do from here, Sweetie.”
“Sweetie – Don’t call me that. You did that when I was a child and I hated it. I am an adult now, and I have made my own decisions. I’m gay. There’s nothing to say about it. I don’t care what you think either.”
“Brody, look. I don’t want to know about that. All I care is that I have my baby now, and I can get married without worrying.”
“Fine. You are pregnant. But I want nothing to do with you from this point on.”
Suddenly, I saw Claire’s eyes glance to the side – at my mother. She had overheard the end part of the conversation. She now knew that Claire and I had had sex – which is all it was anyway.
It was then that I realized my life was never going to be the same again. My mother knew that I had slept with Claire, I hadn’t told Ethan about sleeping with Claire yet, and Claire knew that I was gay. I didn’t think it could get any worse. But it did.
My mother told me that she couldn’t believe how I could disgrace the family. She wanted nothing more to do with me at first, but then she seemed to come around a little. I thought that maybe she would understand if I told her that it was a drunken mistake.
“Mother, it’s not what you think. I don’t love Claire. It was a mistake. We drank too much one night, and it just happened. I don’t even remember it.”
My mother wasn’t laughing. In fact, she looked like she was ready to pass out. The small vein in her forehead that usually only came out for a few seconds when we would tell a lie had popped out enough so that we could watch the blood pulse through it. Claire just stood there, staring at the patio floor.
“Brody, how could you? A mistake? I don’t care what it was,” my mother screamed, “You committed a horrible sin. How could you dare do something like that? Your father and I brought you up to be a good and moral man. Marriage comes before those things. What is wrong with you? Have you no decency?”
Claire still hadn’t said anything. I felt so bad. I didn’t mean to disappoint my mother like that. I definitely could not tell her that I was gay. She would have dropped dead. I figured her tirade was over for a while, so I tried to walk away. She grabbed my hand, and then Claire’s. And that’s when I got an even bigger shock.
My mother informed Claire that she was to tell her fiancé that she couldn’t marry him. She would be marrying me instead.
“What?” Claire and I screamed simultaneously. “We are not getting married?”
There’s no need to tell you what happened from that point on. Claire and I were to be married in a few weeks. And the wedding was planned all the way from the flowers to the honeymoon. It didn’t matter that I didn’t love Claire. It didn’t matter that I was gay – I mean I couldn’t tell anyone. Claire felt awful, but she didn’t do anything to stop the insanity.
Mother didn’t want to let me go back to the city either. She told me that I had to stay home and get ready for the wedding. She said she was getting ill, and needed me by her side. And I listened to her. I couldn’t go against my mother’s wishes. It would have killed her if I didn’t listen. I thought about it for a while. I did need the money from the inheritance. I couldn’t hide the fact that I was gay much longer, unless I married Claire. Then, I would only have to live with the shame that I had premarital sex, as if it was a big deal any way. To my mother, it was one of the biggest sins that one could commit.
That’s when I had to choose between Claire and Ethan. That night, I knew it was time to call Ethan. The conversation went worse than I expected it to go. I felt horrible afterwards. I disappointed him even more than I did my mother.
I called Ethan up at around one o’clock in the morning when my parents were asleep. I didn’t get off the phone until after three. We chatted idly for the first few minutes, but then he realized I was not in my apartment in the city. I was still back at my parent’s house.
I told him what happened. I told him that I had slept with Claire to get her off my back. I told him how my mother had reacted, and what she wanted Claire and I to do. I told him that I was forced into marrying her, or telling my mother the truth about being gay. And Ethan knew how I felt about coming out. After I cried out to him for over an hour, he finally told me that he didn’t know what to think. He said that he needed some time, and he would call me the following weekend. He never did though. Instead, I received a letter. Here’s how it read…
“Brody, I love you. I remember that first day I saw you. You had walked into the office and stood looking in amazement around the inner room. Something made me turn around and that’s when I first saw you. I remember staring at you through the glass wall of my office. I was on the balcony calling a client.
“I never told you this Brody, but I fell in love with you when I first saw you that day. I knew that we would be together. I knew I wanted to take you into my arms, and hold you forever. I remember when I asked you back to my place, and you accepted. And I remember making love to you for the first time. You didn’t tell me that I was your first, but I knew by looking at you. I could tell that you were waiting for the right man. Yeah, I had been with a few other guys before you, and a girl or two in high school, but when I was with you, I learned what love was. I learned how to truly give myself entirely to someone. I learned how to trust, and how to believe. You and I were meant to be together from that very day. When we kissed, something came over me. I was awakened – like never before. It was as though I had found the missing part of my heart that you had been holding all along. You placed it inside of me, and I am so grateful to you for that. I don’t want to lose you. I would die if I did. But, Brody. I can’t pretend to understand you anymore. If you love me, you should do what you believe is right. I know you can’t though. I know you cannot disappoint your family, your friends, and your hometown. And I admire that more than you know. I just wish that you could take some of my strength and use it to do the right thing. Then, we would get through this. But, I can’t share you Brody. If I did, I would be giving you that piece of my heart back. And then it all would have been for nothing. Goodbye Brody. I hope that you will be able to get over me because I will never get over you.”
And he signed it “Love, Ethan.” I knew better than to call him. He meant what he said. I was sure that I was never going to see him again.
The wedding day approached, and I did my duty. I waited up there for her to walk down the aisle, and pledge our love. Our fake love that is. I waited, and I waited for quite a while. I looked out at my mother who was sitting in the front row with a tear in her eye. I don’t know whether it was because she was seeing her youngest son walk down the aisle, or because she knew it was all a lie. A lie that she created for me to live. I then looked at everyone else too. There were over two hundred friends, family, and complete strangers standing in front of me.
I should have guessed that Claire was going to stand me up at the altar.
I broke down at that moment. I couldn’t stand there any longer. I ran to the back of the garden. I ran all the way back to the house. I knew what was awaiting me. And as I opened my bedroom door, I saw it.
In a small envelope with my name written on the front was a short letter. Claire said that she couldn’t go through with it. She felt guilty about trapping me like she did in my apartment that night. She didn’t want to make my life miserable by marrying her. She had left town, and would not be coming back. She left a note for my mother also, and told her that she had lost the baby. She had lied though, but she knew that my mother would forgive me if there were no baby. Claire also wrote in the letter that I didn’t want to have sex with her, but she made me.
I felt sorry for Claire then. She had lost my mother, her best friend, and would appear foolish to so many friends. But it didn’t matter. I had still lost Ethan, who was my whole life.
I sat down on the bed and thought about the situation for a moment. I had finally found a man that I could be with. I kept the secret that I was gay for most of my life. And then Claire discovered my secret. And my life was over. I lost Ethan. I knew I still couldn’t call him. Even though I wanted to be with him now, it was over. He would never come back to me.
I returned to my apartment in the city the following week. I even went back to work. And I even saw Ethan. He wouldn’t look at me. He must have known that all was not right once I was back so soon. I just wanted him to talk to me.
And then one day about nine months later, I came back from lunch to find another note on my desk. It was in the same hand writing as the one I had received on my wedding day. I opened the envelope up. It was from Claire. I was scared to open it up, but then I wondered what else she could be doing to me. Was she really out of my life? Was she going to tell my mother that I was gay? The letter was very short, and it read…
Congratulations. You are the proud father of Ethan Brody Williams. And I have a gift for you. I called Ethan this morning, and told him what happened. I will never bother you again. I am so sorry for what I have done.
I looked up from my desk out the interior glass wall. I opened the door, and saw Ethan standing there. He looked at me, and then whispered into me ear, “I have the afternoon free. Why don’t you come over and join me in the hot tub?”